Colorado [US], November 21 (ANI): A 22-year-old gunman entered an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado and immediately opened fire, killing at least five people and injuring 18 others has been identified as Anderson Lee Aldrich, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez.
Aldrich just before midnight Saturday opened fire before patrons confronted and stopped him, police said Sunday, reported CNN.
The suspect used a long rifle in the shooting, and two firearms were found at the scene, Vasquez said.
At least two people inside the club confronted and fought the gunman and prevented further violence. "We owe them a great debt of thanks," he said.
The violence lasted just minutes. Police received numerous 911 calls starting at 11:56 pm, officers were dispatched at 11:57 pm, an officer arrived at midnight and the suspect was detained at 12:02 am, police said.
A total of 39 patrol officers responded, police said, and Fire Department Captain Mike Smaldino said 11 ambulances went to the scene, reported CNN.
Of the 18 people injured, several are in critical condition with gunshot wounds, though the exact number was unclear, officials said.
The suspect is being treated at a hospital, police added. Officers did not shoot at him, police said.
Police said they were investigating whether the attack was a hate crime and noted Club Q's relationship with the LGBTQ community, reported CNN.
"Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens," Vasquez said. "Every citizen has a right to feel safe and secure in our city, to go about our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly."The shooting location is reminiscent of the 2016 attack at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State killed 49 people and wounded at least 53.
Colorado has been the site of some of the most heinous mass shootings in US history, including the 1999 shooting in Columbine High School and the 2012 movie theatre shooting in Aurora, reported CNN.
In a statement on social media, Club Q said it was "devastated by the senseless attack on our community" and thanked "the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack."Club Q posted earlier that its Saturday night lineup would feature a punk and alternative show at 9 p.m. followed by a dance party at 11.
The club also planned to hold a drag brunch and a drag show on Sunday for Transgender Day of Remembrance. The club's website now says it will be closed until further notice, reported CNN.
The club opened in 2002 and was, until recently, the only LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, the state's second-most populous city with just under 500,000 residents.
"Proudly queer Club Q has stood as a bastion of the LGBTQ community where others have fallen," 5280 magazine reported in a story last year.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the nation's first openly gay governor, issued a statement Sunday calling the attack "horrific, sickening and devastating" and offered state resources to local law enforcement, reported CNN.
"We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman likely saving lives in the process and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting," he said. "Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together." (ANI)